tv [untitled] February 20, 2012 10:30pm-11:00pm EST
years for it. and nobody knew that i bought designer clothes. why do they think it's funny? >> but bar is right, there are a lot of myths about first ladies and there's sort of a stereo type of every one that you get stereo typed the minute you move in. that is it, it doesn't matter what you do, that is your stereo type. >> even before you took the oath of office, there was this consensus among some in the press who obviously had never met you, that you represented the second coming of mimi eisenhower. >> oh. >> and first of all, let's be fair to mimi eisenhower. >> i mean who is that an insult to, me or her? >> insult to you.
>> that was retore -- mimi was as much a icon in the' 50s, as jake was in the '60s. >> you are not old enough to know that. no no. >> you must at some level resent the reassumptions if nothing else? >> not really. look at all the things they said about george. >> which one? >> yeah. >> no. >> one of the things we knew and we knew that from when george, my george sdpidecided to run, w you know and i knew this personally because of course we had been the children of a president, was that in these jobs the people who are serving
get characterized in way that they are not. and we know that. and you know, it's just something you have to accept i think, you do everything you can. you have a very strong presses of that does everything they can to try to get the word out about what people are really like and they are just always the opposition that, and sometimes the opposition is the press. that you know tries to paint another picture and because i knew that it really did not bother me that much. >> you know, an interesting thing i think is, i saw nancy reagan do something for arthritis one day and the whole press corp, sorry, that is you up, there the whole press corp was there, we never saw a word about it. but the people that were there from wisconsin and other towns,
they wrote about what nancy had do done. the truth is, the word gets out to houston, texas, or wherever you are from, the nice things, so you do not worry that washington did not print that nancy had a wonderful big deal about arthritis. that doesn't phase you. you know at home, people know that you are doing your best. >> what is harder to bare, criticism which you believe to be unjust of a spouse in the ovals of or the criticism of a child in the oval office? >> you need to phrase that differently, much harder the son. >> and much harder the father. i mean, when you are, there you
live there, for one thing you do not have time to read all the criticism. when you are watching from outside, it's very, very difficult i think to see somebody you love criticized. >> i never heard a bad word about laura, i was ready to take them on. not one bad word. >> that was good. you were both war time first ladies. that must have, to some degree redefine today job or the job that you expected to perform when you went into office, how did it change your lives? >> i remember when gampy was president, i can remember watching him announce that
troops were going to take in iraq out of kuwait. and how worried we were. and how nervous i was watching that. and then of course, for us, you know, we had september 11th which was such, you know the real tragedy really and then the other things sort of followed on that. >> i think the -- i think george's war, my george's war, they are both my george's, i think my george's war was easier than george ws. because we -- the missiles went in, they went around corners and hit the targets and the war was over once they started it was over very quickly. i honestly think that george hw bush, taught the world how to
keep the peace by negotiating. i remember sitting at camp david once and hearing him say, his french is better than mine, but not much. and it suddenly occurred to me that he was calling every head of state to just check in with them and get sort of things in, he had his ducks in order. it was an easier world than it is now. 9/11 changed all of our lives. laura had a more difficult time. >> what can you do to at a time like that to provided support? >> stop nagging your husband for one thing. >> just the tradition of daily life t dinners together and the girl coming home and when i wrote my book i looked at my schedule and saw that barbara and jenna both came home before
we went to iraq, they did not go to the beach or anything, they want eed to be with their dad. the other thing i saw was a lot of our life long friends, george's and mine from midland who were in bar's cub scout troop when she was the den mother also came to the white house and then a lot of times, when times were tough, i know marvin, george's brother who lived there, lives in alexanderia, he said i'm going to come over and let's watch a game. and they would just watch a game all afternoon and i knew there was just this sort of unspoken brotherly comfort for george to have his brother and his sister both live near us in washington. and it really ended up being great emotional support for our eight years to have marvin there and darla there. >> and is it possible to have a
normal dinner without events of state intruding? >> sure. absolutely. >> unless there's a war or something. >> unless people are jumping up going in to make phone calls which andy card probably remembers some of those dinners. >> you mentioned camp david, clearly that is a place that presidential families>> i thinkt place for family and you can have people come up and advise you and talk to you and pits makes a huge difference and i know that george met his cabinet up there and the and met just had meetings where he could be off the record and really learn things and he was off the phone a lot.
great. he napped and we went to church and we built a church, and our daughter got married there. >> our two families really loved it. in fact, we have a record that will never be broken of more trips, 12 christmass at camp david. >> wow. >> for the four years that you all were there and the eight years we were there. and she fed us. >> do you know this? every bite a guest eats in the white house or at camp david, the president pays for, maybe his wife does, but anyway, it's not something you just go and the white house feeds you, you will get a bill saying joe blow was staying, one egg, 18 cents. i mean, everything is itemized. and so, it's much cheaper than you all pay or we pay now, but it's everything is paid for, so,
all the guests that they had and we had, we were delighted to pa child, she had two first cousins that i know of and nothing else. >> that is true. >> we have 850,000 relatives all on george's side and she fed them all, she had all of us, we are now 22 or 23, we were not quite that many then, but almost and they fed us every christmas, wonderful. >> but we did love going to camp david and it was a great relaxation i think for the president, andy and kathy card went with us a lot because you may not know this but somebody from the chief of staff or somebody from the chief of staff's office travels with the president everywhere. so on the weekends when we would go to camp because their kids were grown, they would come to camp and kathy would get up early on sunday mornings and drive off, because she was a
minister of a methodist church in mcclain, so she would leave then. but it was a really great way to be friends with both the people that worked with you who traveled with you and then all of our friends as well would come with us a lot. thousands. >> it was fun. it's a lot of emotional support to have your friends with you. >> you may have answered this question, at least in part, how aware of you in the white house of being inside the so-called bubble, in kind of unreal world, and how do you stay connect with the real world outside? >> friends. >> friends. i think that friends are helpful. george loves to tell the story about taking these guys into the oval office, boys that we grew up with, now men, 65-year-old men and saying, and they would go in the oval office and they
would go god bush i can't believe i'm here. and then they would look at him. >> can't believe he was there. but friends make a difference. >> i think that friends make a difference and family make as difference, it's great to have family there. the girls always had lots of their girls there, in the second four years after they graduated in 2004, a lot of their friends moved to washington and worked for the administration in various spots. and that was fun for them and they did as well. they worked on the 2004 campaign that is where jenna met her husband. >> let's talk about someone who is common to both bush white houses, america's spiritual president in many ways, bill graham. he played a significant role in
your lives? >> yes, billy was a great fwrrid of ours and george's mother adored him, she went to the inauguration the first one and she went back to the white house and in the queen's bedroom and billy came back and sat with her i mean, he was that close a friend, she said i think the happiest day in my life was when billy came to talk to us. he came to dinners and i think you all were there when he came to the dinner and one of our nephews or cousins, one of george's millions was there at dinner. and said to him, well, dr. graham i have a close friend whose brother died and he was a very good guy. why did that happen? and billy was sweet and he gave him a wonderful lovingwhh seeme
the time. but it is a hard answer and billy was so thoughtful to our face aainly loved george w. and hw. >> faith, clearly helps you get through a tough time? >> faith does for sure. and the churches that we went to, the chapel that bar mentioned at camp david was really, you know, it's something that i miss, we went there of course with the troops that are stationed there, the navy and marines that are stationed at camp david and their little children and every year we went to the christmas pageant with the little kids and one year two little shepard, we made the mistake of having a christmas pageant at 8:00 at night and it was too late. and one little pair of shepard brothers got into a fight with each other, where they were
choking each other on the stage, one had his costume turned around over his face while his brother was kmochoking him, it sweet to be with those little kids. and see them grow up. their parents were not stationed there for long. two or three years. george after one of the hurricanes he was down on the coast, he ran into the little shepa shepard's father he was a cb, and he was working on something to do with the hurricane. so, you know, those were meaningful times to go to church at camp david with the troops that were stationed there and we went to st. john's across the street from the white house and that was the kmufchurch we walko or drove to when you were in town in washington and that minister, lewis leon is a cuban immigrant, he was part of pedro
pan, his parents put him on a plane by himself, and he never saw his dad again. his mother did not get out for five years and his father died before he got out of cuba. and i remember on the second anniversary of september 11th, we went to a prayer service at st. john that morning and he said mr. president, did you not ask me, but i think the reason they did it is because we are a country where an immigrant can preach to the president. >> sweet, we went to camp david the last weekend we were in town, and they had us a going away ceremony and it was so emotional. i had been very brave, darl had left time and they could not stand being there for the
inauguration of our successor, we were very good sports about it. but that was the most emotional, all those soldiers and military people and such a tribute to george, really one of the most emotional times i think that we have had. >> another scene that is obviously never seen in public but every four years occurs, or every eight years occurs and that is usually on the morning of the inauguration day, when the out going president and his family bids adieu to the permanent white house family. >> terrible. >> tell us, because we have never seen it and yet i'm told it was particularly emotional for both the bush families. >> well, i was lucky because i got to go back with laura and george. but i remember rushing around the corner to go hug george, the
other ushers, who not ushers -- >> butlers. >> butlers, well we loved the ushers too, but running around because i had not said goodbye to them, and they were in tears and we were in tears and guess what, eight years later, we were back. >> well that was, you know, that was another advantage that made it seem like home to us and that was because we knew the ushers and the butlers from the four years that we visited president bush and barbara, and of course, they stayed. they are permanent employees, they are not political a appoint appointees, so they were back and we were back skprks it was fun to get to be with them. but that was very sad with a lot of crying and telling people goodbye and the one gardner, dale, who takes care of all the dogs. the dogs love dale better unanimous us. >> that is your dogs, mine love
us better. >> dale even went after the fords left, went to colorado when their dog liberty had puppies. he could not even come to the goodbye because it was not a goodbye to us, it was a goodbye to barney and ms. bemptasley fo him. >> when we opened the library, the clintons told all the help that they can come to the opening of the library and they had a repeat of the horseshoe tournament. i think unfortunately we were beaten again. they sent their best players down. but that was very sweet of them because they knew how much we loved them and they loved george, so that was nice. >> can you remember an entertainer who you had to the white house who was particularly memorable? >> can't remember his name, but
i do remember one entertainer who announced we were dinner, and he'll be glad i can't remember his name, but we were going into the state dinner and he wanted to sit next to his girlfriend. well, that's not the way it works at the white house. you sit next to people you're not married to or you haven't come with so you can go home and talk about all these fascinating things you did or met or heard, and this guy announced that he was not going to entertain, and we were all down waiting, and laurie firestone, our protocol -- what was she -- >> social secretary. >> social secretary, terrible, he won't come unless he can sit next to his girl. we said he can't, everybody's seated. anyway, he did come, but she went down and said to him, we're calling a press conference right now. anyway, he did entertain, but it was a very scary time.
>> one of the nights i loved was we had a state dinner for john kufore from ghana, and we had the dinner inside, and we went out to the rose garden in the dark with the full moon and had the cast from "the lion king" come and sing, and, you know, they sort of came out of the dark in those great costumes, and it was really pretty fabulous. >> you see the best and the worst of human nature around such events. i was recently part of an oral history project, we interviewed all of the white house social secretaries, i think there are 14 of them still around. some people never change, people try to change the plate settings at the president's table. did you ever run into that? >> no, i let the social secretary run into that. >> my social secretary kept me in the dark about a lot of things. i didn't know them until -- when
i was working on my book, two of the social secretaries came to dallas and stayed with me for a few days, and we had the tape recorder and they told wild stories that i did put in the book, but i didn't actually observe these wild stories. >> mrs. johnson, there was a foreign -- who shall remain nameless, who was coming, and someone wanted very, very badly to come to the dinner and they couldn't get an invitation and his wife was of this country's decent and eventually word wafted up to the first lady that the lady in question was dying of cancer, and she got invited, and i think she's still with us. >> i think so too. >> people will go to extraordinary lengths. >> you know, mrs. johnson, before laura became first lady, mrs. johnson was my favorite,
but mrs. johnson, when we first got to congress and there were 48 or 57 new congressmen that year, and mrs. johnson invited everybody up to the family quarters, and she told us that she had never been up there before herself, and so she wanted to be sure, and she remembered george's mother, who had been the husbands in the senate together. mrs. bush, doddy bush ever comes, please, bring her up to the white house, i'd love to have her. i found that extraordinarily generous that she would get us all upstairs, and she was just a lovely person, and i don't think she got the credit she was due. >> she's also, she defies the labels, because she is on one hand a traditionalist, she obviously cared passionately about making life for her husband better, but she cared about making life for everyone
better, so she was also an activist. >> well, we both are that way, so stop it. >> i'm suggesting you have a lot in common. >> oh, good. oh, good. >> i did get to show ladybird around the white house. linda brought her in a wheelchair, and by then she had a stroke and couldn't speak anymore, but she still was so expressive, the way she always was, where if she saw the portrait of her husband, she sort of put her arms out like that, or at the door, the doorman was a retired maitre d', had been the maitre d' when the johnsons lived there and linda brought her up and she got in the wheelchair and mr. german fell into her arms, the maitre d' that had been there when they were there. it was fun to see the white house with her, and she was still -- really could let me
know which parts she liked a lot and which parts she didn't. probably, this is a -- there's a photo in the white house of a little girl named ruth who looks unhappy and supposedly ladybird was giving a tour of the white house and says i love the portrait of this unhappy little girl, and a man in the group said, well, she grew up to be my happy wife. >> i think that's a true story. >> i don't know, i asked her about it, but she couldn't really tell me. >> i think that's a true story. >> couple things before we open this for questions from the audience, i assume christmas is a magical time. >> unbelievable. you know, the same florists came back every single year. it was like trying to get into the most exclusive club in america, and they came for two weeks? >> a week, a full week at least. >> a full week. >> these are volunteer florists from around the country who come
year after year to help decorate. >> they do the big wreaths, but laura says the christmas card, i know we got there in january and january whatever it was we were there, 20th, maybe the 25th, the florist came up and said, what will the theme be next year for christmas. i said, what will the theme be? but they work all year long, the florists, on getting ready for the theme and whether it's storybook time or santa's -- st. niclas, different things, they work all year long, and these people come in and really do a wonderful job, and they are fed by the white house chefs, and they have more fun. >> they have a great time. >> and you cannot literally get in that club unless someone dies off. it's beautiful.
i can remember sam lablonde as a little boy with wonderful white house trees in the foyer with white lights and snow on them and invited the children to come down and had a snow fight with all that stuff. sam lablonde was buried. >> he loved it. what the florist really looks at protocol for when she is working on what flowers you're going to use for a state dinner, and there's also another story, i don't know who this was, but the big faux pas of having the flowers of the state dinner to be the colors of their enemy's flag. there are a lot of things you have to pay attention to. >> one year when george was president, they brought out for the mexicans sort of an adobe house dessert, and it was perfectly beautiful, unfortunately, they had little
figures on the side of mexicans taking siestas with the big cowboy hat, which they thought would be very insulting, so, therefore, as the waiters walked out, someone stood and plucked the people off. [ laughter ] crazy. >> there's a famous story of the ford white house at the height of the bicentennial and quin elizabeth and prince philip were the guests and apparently vetted the marine band program that evening, and as the president and her majesty stepped down on to the dance floor, the marine band broke into a lusty rendition of "the lady is a tramp." >> how about the story that ronald reagan was leading into the dining room and she suddenly
halted, and he urged her to come on, and then no, she wouldn't. and he didn't speak french and her english wasn't very good or wasn't at all. finally, she pointed, he was stepping on her dress. he told that story, and then later, our chief of protocol told that story as if it happened to him, but we all know it happened to ronald reagan. >> i wrote it in my book because i did the same thing with the first lady of poland's dress, where i stood on her gown and kept trying to get her to move on. matter not to wear a train to the white house. >> you haven't asked this, but i think the most exciting -- i read you were going to ask us this, but i tried to think, i think the most touching day at the white house was the day